Fisheries officers to deal with seals invading northern Newfoundland town

Police returned this seal to the sea after giving it a lift in the back of a truck. Pic Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Roddickton-Bide Arm, on the island of Newfoundland, calls itself the "Moose Capital of the World". "It could potentially impact people's health and well-being", she said.

A seal is shown in a handout photo from Marystown RCMP.

Roddickton's mayor could not be reached for comment, but VOCM News reported Tuesday that the seal situation was to be addressed at the Roddickton-Bide Arm Town Council meeting on Tuesday night. "These seals - as cute as they are - can't stay as residents in our village because there's not a food supply through the winter". Sheila Fitzgerald said there is a reasonable concern that the apparently disoriented seals might become aggressive if approached by humans.

Posting on Facebook, the force said: "The RCMP and DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) remind the general public that it is illegal to disturb marine mammals and although animals of the wild may appear to be friendly in nature, it is very risky to approach or attempt to capture animals without proper equipment". "This is hard for the little seals, because nobody wants to see animals hurt - but it's also hard for the town".

She says that for the time being, the animals have been surviving on fish they catch in the town's streams.

The DFO is working on a plan for the seals, including determining exactly where they're located and how many are in the area.

"This has gone on long enough", Fitzgerald said, opining that if a whale had been stranded, federal officials in Canada might have reacted more quickly.

A spokesperson for the RCMP said officers responded to a complaint Wednesday morning, and on arriving at the scene, they found employees from Department of Fisheries and Oceans were there as well. Moving a larger number of animals is a little trickier.

"We get this every year", said Garry Stenson. This one on the Burin Peninsula was brought back to open water this week. "And the difficulty with some areas, of course, is if they're not stuck on land, then it's much more hard". So enjoy the unusual site of a group of them this nearby, Stenson said, but do it from a distance.

"It's kind of neat that Newfoundland is one of the few places where we're actually able to see these animals".

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